The Kogi State Government revealed that Sterling Bank opened the controversial fixed deposit account in the name of the state government without the knowledge or directive of the state.
This was disclosed by the Kogi Commissioner For Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiwaju Idris Asiru, alongside the state Accountant General, Jibril Momoh and Auditor General, Yakubu Okala, before the state assembly at plenary, on Tuesday, in Lokoja.
The State House of Assembly called the Commissioner to explain the state’s position on the alleged N20 billion that was recently forfeited to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in agreement with the EFCC.
Asiwaju Idris Asiru said the state government was surprised when it received the news that the bailout money meant to offset arrears of workers’ salaries was domiciled in a Fixed Deposit Account with the bank, to yield interests, adding that the State wrote to Sterling Bank to discover the bank’s true position. The bank responded, stating that the government had no such account with it.
The Commissioner added that the so-called Mirror Account was returned to the CBN as Liability Account by the bank adding that the government also wrote to the bank on the issue.
“No fixed account was ever opened or authorised by anyone, neither was there any N20 billion kept anywhere.
“The facility in that sum collected from the bank via the approval of CBN in 2019 has since been used for the purpose intended. Salary payment and other overheads.
“Kogi is paying N89 million on monthly basis to settle the bailout loan.
”As a state, we are known for transparency, accountability and efficiency in funds management as it has become a culture under Governor Yahaya Bello.
“That cannot be rubbed in the mud easily. As a Government, Gov. Bello remains upright and our books are there to be checked.
”Kogi state is in the good books of the World Bank and other international partners for openness, transparency and accountability, therefore, no amount of misinformation and mischievous assault can fault the records,” Asiru added
Both the Accountant General and the Auditor General of the state held that the bailout fund was judiciously utilised for the purpose it was meant.
The Commissioner added that the state would consider filing a lawsuit after the ongoing investigations into the matter are solved.
Report indicated last month that the Kogi State government called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to apologize to the State over an alleged N20 billion bailout fund it sought a court order to freeze.
EFCC had alleged the sum was deposited in an interest yielding account by Kogi State government officials.
The EFCC had instituted a suit marked FHC/1/CS/1086/2021 against the Kogi state government seeking to freeze its account with account number 0073572696.
A Lagos High Court on August 31, 2021, froze the Kogi State government’s account domiciled in Sterling Bank Plc, following EFCC’s ex-parte application before Justice Tijani Ringim.
The money deposited with the account name “Kogi State Salary Bailout Account” was meant for the payment of salaries in the state.